Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

PA fears US will continue to allow settlement building

19 July 2009

By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz – 19 July 2009

WASHINGTON – Palestinian officials said yesterday they were worried the U.S. administration was close to an interim agreement with Israel on settlement construction. According to information that has reached the Palestinian Authority, Israel will not completely halt construction in the settlements but will limit it drastically to the point of almost stopping it. In exchange, Arab countries will implement previously discussed concessions – among them, allowing Israeli planes to cross their airspace and opening diplomatic missions.

The PA will discuss this with U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell in Ramallah this week.

Sources in the PA said that “half-solutions” are unacceptable and that Israel must completely stop construction in the settlements.

The Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam reported on Saturday that Mitchell is to inform PA President Mahmoud Abbas by phone that the U.S. administration has been unable to obtain Israel’s consent to stop construction completely.

Senior Palestinian officials have been following ambiguous statements made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has hinted that an agreement with Israel is in the offing.

Senior officials say American assent to even limited Israeli construction in the settlements would once again damage the American position as an honest broker in the Middle East. U.S. President Barack Obama told American Jewish leaders last week that his clear position against settlements has strengthened his position as an honest broker with the Arabs.

Over the past few days, Abbas has reiterated concerns over continued construction in the settlements, saying he would not renew negotiations with Israel as long as such construction persisted. However, senior Palestinian officials said that soon after the Obama administration reaches an agreement with Israel and the Arab countries, it intends to renew negotiations on a final status agreement. If the PA refuses to join, as Abbas apparently articulated, it will appear to be obstructing the peace process.

In any case, the PA will probably seek to postpone talks until after the Sixth Fatah Congress and general elections, scheduled for August 4. Sources in the PA said talks between Hamas and Fatah, which were to resume between July 25-28, would probably be postponed until after the Fatah Congress opens in Bethlehem.

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